Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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The smile returns: Peña reports to camp
Posted Feb 23, 2012 by Roger Mooney
Updated Feb 23, 2012 at 11:32 AM
Carlos Peña quickly found his way to the batting cage this morning after reporting to camp.
PORT CHARLOTTE Carlos Peña reported to Rays camp this morning, and said he felt as if he never left.
“I feel really comfortable just walking and seeing the guys again, and some new faces also,” he said. “I feel very comfortable coming in and getting to say hello to everyone, and they really made me feel like I never left and I truly feel that way.”
Peña, the Rays all-time leading home run hitter, left during the payroll slashing after the 2010 season, played a year for the Cubs and re-signed last month for $7.5 million.
“Just really happy and grateful the opportunity came about and that I’m here,” he said. “It has materialized. At first it was just a possibility. All of a sudden it’s reality and I’m part of his ballclub once again. Even thought I was away, I was always pulling for this ballclub, staying in touch with my teammates and my friends, so it just makes this a lot easier coming back, because I never really stopped talking to everyone. So this is really cool.”
Peña said he spent the morning ride to the Charlotte Sports Park reliving the great moments he had from 2007 to 2010, his first stint as a Ray.
“You’re running through all the good memories and looking forward to making new ones. It was a cool ride,” he said. “I always think that first ride to spring training is a special time. Those 15, 20 minutes it took me to get here, I was playing in my mind all the good times I had here with these guys, and also envisioning to make some better memories and go after the dream that we all have, which is to go as far as possible in this game.”